Adele Flynn communications boot camp

There is a saying that goes, “Whatever makes you uncomfortable is your biggest opportunity for growth.”

Public speaking, being on camera and media interviews are all things that make me uncomfortable. I’ve always been looking for ways to improve. I’ve read about the American Farm Bureau Women’s Communication Boot Camp and the Ohio women who have attended for several years. Three small children, a full-time farm and other commitments always held me back. But in February 2020, I finally made the decision to try for it. I submitted my application….. and then a pandemic happened! So when I received notice that the boot camp would be starting back up this fall, I was more than ready! I re-applied and found out that out of 56 applications, Ohio would be sending two women in agriculture (the only state to have multiple attendees)!

I was warned ahead of time that the boot camp would be intense. But I told myself that is exactly why I was going, to get uncomfortable and to grow. I have to say, after making it through, although it was intimidating at times, it was actually very refreshing. It took me out of my comfort zone in a good way. For example, we were told to prepare a three-minute speech about one of AFBF’s top issues. They would record it, while we presented it to the group, and we could only have one note card with key words on it. I loathe watching myself on camera or listening to my voice, so the thought of watching it with someone while they critiqued me, made my stomach hurt.

During the speech I kept thinking, “Can they hear my heart pounding? Can they see my lips quivering?” At one point I said something out of order, fumbled, apologized and went on. Watching it back later with my instructor, I got a different perspective. I realized all of those nerves I felt inside weren’t visible on the outside and that the audience didn’t have my script. They had no idea I messed up until I pointed it out to them. Those simple realizations were such confidence boosters.

It was an extremely beneficial training program, but what might be the most fulfilling part of the experience was getting to know the other boot campers. We weren’t just there to learn from the instructors; we were there to learn from other Farm Bureau women from all over the country (from as far away as Alaska!), to learn from each other’s experiences, to uplift and encourage each other and to drive each other to improve. Each and every woman I met at this boot camp was incredible! What drew us together was the passion that we all have for this amazing industry. No matter what different type of agriculture we are involved in, whether it’s sugarcane, bison, cut flowers, food inspection, grain crops or cattle, we are all unified in our beliefs: We love our families, we love our farms, we love Farm Bureau and we want to be able to share that with the world. We all attended this boot camp in order for the amazing AFBF staff to help us do that.

On our final day we had to give our speech again, using everything we had learned. All of the nerves were gone. I was surrounded by friends who I knew would support me. I was confident in all of the skills my instructors had instilled in me and I believed in the message I was prepared to share.

Overall it was amazing experience! I highly encourage any Ohio Farm Bureau woman who is passionate about our wonderful industry and wants to do more to advocate for it, whether you are comfortable communicating or not, apply for this boot camp!

About Women’s Communications Boot Camp

AFBF Women's Communications Boot Camp Nov 2021Thirteen farm and ranch women leaders graduated from the fall session of Women’s Communications Boot Camp hosted by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Boot Camp graduates are Lydia Haynes, Alabama; Monica Thornburg, Alaska; Hayley Andrus, Arizona; Vickie Bryant, Kentucky; Roslyn Simon, Louisiana; Karin Bump, New York; Stephanie Frisbee, North Carolina; Cindy Cassell, Clermont County, Ohio; Adele Flynn, Lorain County, Ohio (both pictured in the back row, from the left); Andrea Brown, Pennsylvania; Katie Martin, Tennessee; Livvy Preisser, Virginia; and Christa Douglass, Washington.

The intensive four-day course featured hands-on sessions related to public speaking, working with the media and messaging. Graduates will use their training in a variety of ways including participating in local media opportunities to support Farm Bureau’s policy work, sharing information with elected officials and joining social media campaigns to share positive messages about agriculture.

“More than one-third of farmers and ranchers are women,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “They are some of the most passionate advocates for agriculture on social media and in our communities. I’m proud AFBF offers training and support each year to encourage women to increase engagement and step into leadership roles.”

The American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee, in partnership with AFBF staff, hosts and provides training for the Women’s Communications Boot Camp. This the 15th year of the program, which has 223 graduates and is open to all women involved in Farm Bureau. An application process is used to select the participants.

A spring session of Boot Camp will be conducted March 22-25.  Applications are accepted through Jan. 17, 2022.


If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington, D.C.
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